BURN DOWN RICE!: Selling KTRU violates the V2C

The sale announcement was contrary to the Vision for the Second Century

KTRU is not an investment. It is a Rice institution. Since 1967, it has served as Rice’s student radio station, and since 1991 it has served Rice and Houston at 50,000 watts. It is completely integrated with the Rice and Houston community. Selling KTRU with no warning is contrary to the ideals of President David Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century, which was unanimously adopted by the Rice Board of Trustees in December 2006.

The Vision for the Second Century was preceded by a Call to Conversation, which launched a sustained, vibrant and thoughtful dialogue about Rice among all the university’s constituencies. Given the vast scale of the planned changes to the university under the Vision for the Second Century, such a conversation was not just a good idea, it was absolutely necessary. While not everyone may have agreed with the end result, everyone could agree with the process. However, now Rice violates that process of open discussion.

The KTRU sale threatens to eviscerate a university institution and change the public face of the university, all without any conversation. Alumni, students, faculty, and KTRU DJs learned about the sale not from a university-wide conversation about financial concerns, but from rumors on a Houston Press blog. Such secrecy about a massive change like the one at hand is contrary to the underlying procedure outlined in the Call to Conversation. In selling KTRU, Rice held no conversation. There was not even a call announcing the sale. Rice learned from the local newspaper.

In addition the method being contrary to the Call to Conversation, the end result of selling KTRU also contradicts many of the goals stated in the 10-point Vision for the Second Century.

KTRU benefitted students

KTRU provided a unique opportunity for the students themselves to run a fully functioning and extremely popular radio station. Rice students could learn not just how to write papers under pressure or cram at the last minute, but how to manage a fully functioning business. The university trusted students to organize and oversee KTRU, and the university was awarded with a critically acclaimed station unlike anything else in Houston. KTRU’s reputation attracted attention nation-wide, and was a major selling point for potential students otherwise worried about Rice’s nerd-oriented, library like a rockstar reputation. KTRU turned students from amateur music lovers into professional members of the music industry, and sports fans into professional announcers.

In his Vision for the Second Century, President Leebron stated:

“We must provide a holistic undergraduate experience that equips our students with the knowledge, the skills, and the values to make a distinctive impact in the world. This requires that we reexamine the undergraduate curriculum, as well as focus on enhanced research opportunities, training in communication skills, and leadership development for our students.”

KTRU was a unique opportunity for students to both hone their communication skills and develop leadership talent. Whether through managing a staff of DJs, arranging yearly concerts, building contacts with local bands, or many other duties of working at KTRU, students built skills through real world application in a way that Rice otherwise cannot offer. By selling KTRU, Rice is eliminating this fantastic opportunity to develop the very talents that Rice should want in its students. Indeed, Rice is defaulting on its responsibility to future undergraduates. Preplanned leadership classes pale in comparison to the experience that KTRU offers. Nothing can match the feeling of turning a radio dial to 91.7 FM and hearing one of your peers DJ at 50,000 watts, blasting student-run Rice radio throughout Houston, radio waves emanating away from earth at the speed of light. If Rice students can do that, then we can do anything. Indeed, It is no surprise that KTRU can claim venture capitalist John Doerr and State Representative Scott Hochberg as among its alumni.

Even students who were not directly involved in KTRU could take pride in knowing that their very own campus housed an award-winning radio station. Now Rice has sold that pride for $10 million.

KTRU benefitted the Rice campus

Besides helping students, KTRU was a boon for Rice as a whole, serving as a key tool for public relations. As President Leebron stated in his Vision for the Second Century:

“We must fully engage with the city of Houston—learning from it and contributing to it—as a successful partnership with our home city is an essential part of our future. We should do so by continuing to integrate Houston into the educational experience of our students […] and by continuing to provide innovative educational and cultural resources to the broader Houston population.”

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, KTRU provided Houston with new and exciting music, contributing to Houston a sort of musical art that is not available on any other Houston radio station. This radio signal was a constant advertisement for Rice University. We provided a benefit for the city, solidifying Rice’s role as a city leader not in merely as a research institution, but an artistic one as well. Local bands with no other resource could turn to KTRU, and Rice, and have their songs played for the whole city. Local artists knew that Rice was an ally and a positive influence on the city. With the sale of KTRU, Rice loses message.

Indeed, KTRU built relationships with the local community not just through music, but through KTRU News. KTRU News actively built working relationships with nearby researchers in the Texas Medical Center, and with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Houston branch. As the Vision for the Second Century states:

“We must aggressively foster collaborative relationships with other institutions to leverage our resources. This is particularly important in light of our comparatively small size. Our geographic location offers excellent opportunities, and we are especially well situated to develop substantial strategic research and teaching relationships with the other members of the Texas Medical Center. We also can expand our teaching and research achievement in the arts in part through effective partnerships with the cultural institutions of the museum district.”

KTRU was merely beginning to expand its news program, complete with its collaborative relationships with other institutions. However, this sale destroys KTRU’s listener base, and undermines arguments for why other organizations should work with KTRU and Rice.

Furthermore, KTRU’s world music show helped build Rice’s reputation as an international institution. As President Leebron stated in his Vision for the Second Century:

“We must become an international university, with a more significant orientation toward Asia and Latin America than now characterizes our commitments. The great universities of the 21st century will inevitably be global universities, and although we are comparatively small, that ought not be seen as an obstacle to our global reach. We should begin by increasing the number of international students in our undergraduate student body […] and foster the international learning (both here at Rice and around the world) of our faculty, students, and staff.”

Unlike any other station in Houston, KTRU consistently played a regular repertoire of international music. KTRU’s musical choices demonstrated that Rice truly was an international university. Students could expand their horizons by listening to KTRU, and know that there was a greater world to engage. International students and faculty could listen and know that they fit in at Rice. While Rice may have to fight the stereotype of Texas provincialism — not to mention its own history of provincialism — KTRU stands as a beacon of a global community. KTRU reached out to the world and tried to educate Rice about what was out there. By selling KTRU, Rice backtracks in its international endeavor, and may cost more than $10 million to make up the lost ground.

Additionally, KTRU provided art for campus enjoyment. As President Leebron stated in his Vision for the Second Century:

“We must provide the spaces and facilities that will cultivate greater dynamism and vibrancy on the campus and foster our sense of community. […] We should make a greater commitment to incorporate art into the campus landscape and interior public spaces.”

KTRU provided a sense of community, creating a joint pride that despite our research-oriented ways, Rice was one of the hippest places in Houston. KTRU’s eclectic music requirements ensured that it constantly played music that was on the edge. More so than any other Rice institution, KTRU provided new and exciting art to anyone with a radio. Not just the Rice campus, but all of Houston benefitted from KTRU’s artistic endeavors. By selling KTRU, Rice is selling one of Houston’s most valuable artistic centers, and it was located on Rice University.

KTRU benefitted Houston as a whole

To understand how Houston benefits from KTRU, one merely has to read an explanation for one of its many awards for Houston’s Best Radio Station. As the Houston Press explained in 2006:

“Somewhere on the dial, among the Blue October and Laura Ingraham, there’s a little college radio station pumping out 50,000 watts of pure uncommercialized goodness. From the excellent MK Ultra DJ sets every Friday night to the generally upbeat morning drive, Rice University’s KTRU gives Houston the very thing most other radio stations lack: quality. The kids cutting their teeth on indie rock, hip-hop and electro manage to pull off a better radio station than Clear Channel could ever dream up.”

KTRU gave something that no other station in Houston can offer. While some may not understand KTRU’s music, it is not difficult to understand how a city as large as Houston can benefit from something like KTRU. Houston strives to be a world city, and Rice benefits from that growth. However, Houston is often mocked for its art scene, or lack thereof. KTRU provided Houston with a desperately needed outlet for local talent. Now, Houston loses that artistic outlet, and Rice loses the constant praise that came from hosting that outlet. It may cost more than $10 million to get that kind of praise again.

The sale sets a bad precedent

KTRU was a time-honored institution for Rice University, and at 50,000 watts it became a powerful tool for Rice and a boon for Houston. However, if Rice can sell KTRU for the financial benefit, it sets an inappropriate precedent that Rice institutions that are not profitable or do not directly contribute to research can and will be sold if necessary. Perhaps other art programs could be sold. Willy’s Statue looks nice, but it renders little direct benefit for the university and could certainly fetch a pretty penny. Rice’s sports programs fail to make a profit. While their existence is often justified by claims that they provide publicity, the same arguments can be made for KTRU. Under this regime of secret sales, Rice’s art and athletic programs can live with the knowledge that a poor fiscal year and a potential buyer are all that stand between them and elimination.

The Vision for the Second Century states that “we must identify and preserve those things that make Rice a distinctive and special place.” KTRU was one of those things. And while the Vision for the Second Century also instructs that “we must be strategic and selective in our choices,” KTRU undeniably provided numerous benefits that will cost more than $10 million to replace.

Edgar Odell Lovett imagined a university with No Upper Limit. By selling KTRU, Rice has stated just where the limit is.

104 responses to “BURN DOWN RICE!: Selling KTRU violates the V2C

  1. Melted down, Willie’s statue should fetch about $3000. What a waste of resources!

  2. I want one of those bumper stickers for posterity.

  3. http://www.ktru.org/policy.shtml
    “KTRU, as a student-run radio station, is accountable to two bodies: the university as holder of the FCC license and the student body. KTRU, with a 50,000 Watt transmitter, serves Rice University and the Houston community as part of the local radio network. By FCC rules, the station must broadcast programming that serves the needs of the community. The city (community) of license is Houston, Texas. ”

    Maybe something is here?

  4. http://www.radio-locator.com/info/KTRU-FM
    KTRU-FM Technical Info:
    Station Status Licensed Class C2 Non-Commercial FM Station

  5. I like KUHF and think UH would do a great job with a new station. But when KTRU is gone, who is going to play the underground and mostly un-heard music of local musicians. My prime KTRU listening days were during the 1980s. Who will play the Judy’s, the Cinco Dudes, the Sprawls of today?

    • I think UH would do a great job as well. As for the underground music, they can use internet broadcasting. That way they can reach more students (even outside Houston). I have yet to meet a student that listens to KTRU on FM regularly.

      • Part of my concern is that moving KTRU to internet-only is making it so that KTRU is only accessible to the affluent. There are still a lot of people in the Houston area who can’t afford the equipment or the service plans that will let them listen to streaming radio online in their homes, not to mention on expensive smart phones with expensive service plans.

      • Fernando, I am way too old to know any current students. Maybe it’s all changed since I was an undergrad. But I know many who listened to KTRU regularly when I was an undergrad (and subsequently).

        Also, an internet station is really only useful to people who already know what they like. The value of a terrestrial station like KTRU is that it can be found serendipitously. Many a kid from Humble, Katy, Pearland, etc.–looking for something different from the repetitious corporate sounds of commercial radio–,has stumbled across KTRU and found something that changed his or her life.

      • I’m not surprised that you haven’t met a student that listens to KTRU on FM regularly, but I think that says more about you than anything. Most “average” people tend to be a bit… how should I put this…. “behind”, artistically speaking. See, underground college radio tends to play music years ahead of when it hits mainstream radio. That’s because the DJs, like those at KTRU;), are ahead of the curve. They tend to be truly creative, independent non-conformists. And the greatest contributors to society are (surprise!) these such types of individuals. Of course, not many “average” people realize this until it has been packaged and presented to them in a manner that is “familiar” and “safe” to them.
        Now, while many “average” people, such as yourself may not be capable of truly appreciating the worth of this, nevertheless they still benefit from it. In light of this, the least you could do is either show some appreciation or just be quiet and keep yourself busy with some CD you probably purchased while waiting in line at Starbucks (have you heard of that “new” band, Arcade Fire?).

        Underground College Radio has NEVER been about pleasing the majority, and thankfully so. But to those who “get it”, it is an absolute GEM. To the management and staff at KTRU: THANK YOU for being eccentric, weird, awkward, unique, freakish, creative and brilliantly independent. Through both your internet stream AND your FM signal you have served BOTH your campus and the surrounding community. You are an amazing community service, and I think that it is unfortunate that those at Rice who have been entrusted with your care fail to recognize and appreciate this. I will think of you every time I hear Japanther’s “Um, Like Your Smile Is Totally Ruling Me.”

  6. What this represents to me is a betrayal of trust. I imagine that KTRU will still exist, just not broadcasting at 50,000 watts. When the tower and license were donated to KTRU, the university was entrusted with its care. KTRU, with its limited budget provided almost entirely by blanket taxes, cannot afford to ever acquire another FCC license except through the hope of another donation. This is a coup on par with selling every computer, printer, camera, etc. in the Thresher office and telling the student paper to fend for itself. Or renting out Wiess College and telling the students to find their own building to live in. While technically KTRU is not a separate entity from the university, the university treating it as just another fiscal asset is a huge betrayal of trust of a student organization.

    Regardless of your feelings about KTRU (and believe me, there are some students who for whatever reason are going to be happy about this), this decision sets an unfortunate precedent of lack of respect for student-run organizations and their property.

  7. The Leebron administration has stepped over the line this time. KTRU was one of the few organizations on campus that still had some ‘cool’ left in it. I can’t believe they would make this decision without some sort of student forum. And $10 million? Our endowment, as of 2009, was 3.6 billion. What is $10 million? To say this money is going towards another servery is insulting to the memory of KTRU. Students have fallen too far by the wayside of Leebron’s “expansive” vision. If he keeps hiking up the cost of everything (tuition, parking & current students have to pay for the gym in the summer now?!) he’ll finally be alone in the expansive hollow shell of a once-great institution.

  8. This is not the final chapter in a string of arrogant decisions that have strained the KTRU/RICE community. Back in the 70’s when KTRU was a low-power station broadcasting from an antenna rigged to the roof of Sid Rich, there was a lot less scrutiny of the broadcast content. Punk Rock, drug humor, late nigh poetry readings and profanity were not uncommon. As the student body became more conservative and diverse, different constituencies within Rice began to agitate for air-time and for more wholesome adherence to community standards. In the early 80’s a Christian student group started recording all KTRU broadcasts and noting any item that it considered profane or in bad taste and used it’s log of such incidents to lobby for airtime for programming that it supported. All of this was healthy give and take of a dynamic community.
    The 1991 deal with KRTS started the process of unraveling KTRU. The son of a wealthy benefactor of RICE purchased another radio station and was attempting to launch a for-profit classical station broadcasting at 92.1 . For various engineering issues, KTRU’s low-power transmissions from Sid Rich interfered with the licensing process for KRTS. To clear up this issue, the KRTS backers used their influence to give KTRU a fabulous gift, a major boost in power to 50 KW and a move out to a broadcast tower on the north end of Harris County. KTRU instantly gained an exponentially larger potential audience and a great deal more scrutiny about its content. The administration suddenly had more groups wanting air time and more people complaining about profanity and incoherent late night poetry reading on the air. That set the stage for the administration lockout and shutdown in 2000.
    Since that time, KTRU has operated as a patchwork collage of diverse programming rather than the bastion of avant-garde music. KTRU, KPFT, KUHF and KTSU formed a programming polygon on the left end of the dial, where a listener could modulate their listing experience by mixing the programming of those 4 non-mainstream stations. I blame the KRTS guys for killing the old KTRU. I hope that there is an opportunity for KTRU or some successor to start another low-power station, broadcasting from the campus to return the station to its incoherent undergraduate musical roots.

  9. You might check your verb tense. KTRU still does all the things you’re saying it did, and that’s why it’s absurd that the administration is disposing of it.

    Regardless, all is not yet lost. There may still be opportunities to stop this, but it’s going to require the organized work of some dedicated volunteers. Resignation that this is one more thing the administration has gotten away with is precisely the Rice-apathy that will solve nothing and will validate the administration’s erroneous decision.

    If the license to the spectrum is transferring from Rice to UH, then I suspect the FCC has to give some form of approval. If the FCC is involved, there may be some obligatory procedures required under the Administrative Procedure Act (e.g., notice and comment at the very least). There are remedies here for which the public usually has standing. (http://www.media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=14643, sale subject to FCC approval)

    Similarly, as a public university, UH is probably limited by both state and federal laws insofar as it can operate. This will require further investigation. It also may be subject to disclosure obligations under FOIA and the Texas Public Information Act. Generally when institutions engage in fly-by-night sales like this one, there’s something they’re trying to hide from the light.

    Finally, people can certainly speak with their wallets. If Rice is so strapped for cash that it’s trying to raise money by selling infrastructure then we can send our charitable dollars elsewhere. People can forward the Rice donations office copies of their receipts for donations to other schools, charities, churches, whatever. If the administration intends to speak to its bottom line, members of the community need to speak with their wallets. We have to show the university that we’re willing and able to donate, but not to support this kind of behavior. The Office of Resource Development can be reached at 713-348-4600, I suggest people start by calling to tell them about their donations elsewhere.

    Fight the good fight.

    • RiceLawyer, can you please get in touch with the folks at savektru.org? We need some of our lawyer alumni with us, brainstorming what we can do. Thanks!

  10. I can’t even stand to think of U of H people getting to use this vital resource in the middle of the heart of our campus!! What’s next, valhalla????

    • The FCC has not received the application for the transfer of the license yet. I just checked with them. Thanks for writing all of this.

  11. KTRU has a history of non Rice houstons wackos working there.

    I briefly helped on a radio show there and concluded that there were too many unibombers they that were not affilated with Rice.

    Didn’t they have a strike or something and concluded it was non Rice people ?

    Can’t say as a houstonian they served me, odd music, I did like the Sat morning kids show.

    They certainly were inconsistent on their broadcating of Rice sports.

    • oh please, give me a break. KTRU would be NOTHING without its non-Rice DJs. Those kids are mostly too young to be able to support such eclectic and diverse programming. Most of the DJs were former students or non-Rice people. Sports?You want sports? Why don’t you get off your ass and go to some of the events yourself?

  12. Any ideas on how to respond? To whom to send a protesting email?

    • you can sign this petition:


      Also, the KTRU website recommends sending a coherent and sincere email to the following people:

      president leebron at president@rice.edu,
      kevin kirby at kevin.kirby@rice.edu,
      and dean hutchinson at dean.hutchinson@rice.edu .

      additionally, please call dean hutchinson at 713-348-4996 and kevin kirby at 713-348-6040

    • Thanks! I started that kids show! And I sure did play some odd music.

      When I was at KTRU, the DJs were at least 80% Rice undergrads, and another 10% Rice grad students. I suppose if you slapped a pair of aviator shades on the sleep deprived sweatshirt-sporting grad students they might have resembled the unibomber – if the unibomber played awesome hip-hop or Japanese avant garde music.

      KTRU has meant a lot to me through the years – it is the strongest and most popular student group on campus, a vibrant community, and a weird and wonderful cultural force in Houston.

  13. BOO to the Rice administration for making this lame and short sighted decision. When did this university become a homogenized and commercialized institution? A horrid loss.

  14. Sorry…it’s not ‘their property.’ Holding a broadcast license is a public trust, not ownership. For all KTRU may have been for Rice students and its small core of listeners, it isn’t enough in the end to change anything. Broadcast licenses, especially those in the noncommercial ‘educational’ spectrum are still valuable and subject to market forces. No amount of Houston Press awards or nice words on Rice University ‘vision’ documents will change that.

  15. 1. KTRU isn’t going to disappear. It’s clear that they’ll still receive blanket tax funding and keep their space. They’re just going to have to stick to online broadcast.

    2. If we’re being totally honest, the Call to Conversation was the last time students were actually engaged in the decision making process at Rice. We’ve been watching decisions like this pass over our heads for years. (Coffeehouse in the Pavilion, The Grove, transferring our funds to BANNER, Coffeehouse in the Pavilion round 2, …)

  16. Only thing these people will respond to is when you hit them where it hurts. The pocketbook. Begin a campaign to ALL people, organizations and alumni that donate to RICE. You destroy that and rest assured the situation will end favorably. It’s all about money.

    The Rat Bastard Show

  17. Hm… I guess I’ll transfer my donations from Rice to UH as an alum of both.

  18. Pingback: RIP KTRU… Rice administration has screwed themselves | sohummm.com

  19. KTRU was the first (and probably only) broadcast radio station to ever play a remix I created. As a Rice alum I felt so honored to have been played on KTRU, and to know that I had a connection to the Rice community, even though I was living in Pennsylvania. Getting rid of KTRU doesn’t just hurt current Rice students and the Houston listeners, it hurts (and offends) alumni and other distant members of the greater Rice community.

  20. Definitely a sad day for Houston!

  21. I am hoping this does in fact set a precedent. If the athletics department continues to be a poor fiscal decision, maybe it is time we go ahead and shut them down too.

    Bear in mind, proposals to increase KTRU’s blanket tax have failed repeatedly. The student body evidently doesn’t care enough. The hardcore fans can still listen to KTRU on the web.

    The rest of us can do without it

  22. melissa e noble

    the students need to be proactive to raise funds to operate it..as KPFT has to .. They may need to consider to develop the dept. more so this can come about. Nothing is free and it does cost and costs are rising faster than ever which is very expensive to run a radio station.. Come up with some solutions and fast..Some of the brightest minds are at Rice U.. Use the resources there that might can assist in a business marketing strategy. Even if it means paid staff persons. Bear in mind what is played on the radio is not mainstream.. So be clever and diplomatic if you wish to succeed. I too don’t want to see it go.

  23. Pingback: Save KTRU » Save KTRU! Sign the Petition!

  24. I’m connected to both schools, and have fond memories of being in the KTRU booth late at night in the late 70s. But Houston needs the all news station KUHF says it will create, even if it is just the NPR feed. For KTRU, going back to the guerrilla low power FM mode might be a blessing in disguise. A core group can run it with a consistent theme and still learn most of the business of doing radio.

  25. “(Coffeehouse in the Pavilion, The Grove, transferring our funds to BANNER, Coffeehouse in the Pavilion round 2, …)”

    How would you do this differently? Lets assume that the student body had a say. Which of the above was a poor decision? and why?

    1. Coffeehouse in the Pavilion – Matter of opinion. Coffeehouse has variable coffee quality and in my experience, Baristas who do not know what the fancy names on their menu. This way we have TWO coffee shops on campus. So we get choices. Free market.

    2. The Grove – donated money

    3. BANNER – if you knew what kinds of tax fraud were involved prior to this decision, you would reconsider. Colleges were moving university money to non affiliated accounts and using tax exempt forms when they were not supposed to. Id rather do the extra paperwork rather than get our license revoked.

    4. See number 1. Salento rocks.

    There are multiple perspectives to these issues. If we let the students run everything, we would get a hybrid of the college governments (who waste more money percent-wise than any other organization in my opinion) and the SA, that does nothing really.

    I think leebron is making some progressive steps. Unfortunately this disturbs the ‘status quo’ and makes protests like this start.

    What next? The Rice Tea Party movement??

    • Slightly off topic, but the coffeehouse issue would have been more “free market” if coffeehouse hadn’t been locked out of the bidding process.

      • Im talking about the end result. If coffeehouse was so loved and revered by all, they would have driven the Pavilion bankrupt.

        Salento would not take over a franchise if it was not profitable. There is evidently money in both establishments without forcing us to drink from one.

        Coffeehouse was locked out of the bidding as the administration wanted a professional organization that was not exclusively undergraduate oriented. They wanted a UG neutral zone (something for grad students other than Valhalla). Also, Leebron wanted a place that could distinguish between a Macchiato and a Latte

    • The official reasoning behind the CoffeeHouse/Pavilion debate that I heard was that the University wanted to be able to sell wine in the Pavilion, but was unwilling to grant a liquor license to another student organization.

      As it is today, I know very few students who purchase coffee at the Pavilion. Its clientele consist almost exclusively of professors and visitors from off-campus, who feel more welcome there than in the RMC.

      • I have tried the Pavilion twice (I am an alumnus and occasionally go to campus for lectures or to check out the Rice gallery). I found the prices outrageous and the quality really bad. It didn’t seem to be a popular spot when I was there, although that may have been a matter of timing on my part.

        The fact that it was outsourced and is run without student involvement makes all the more sense, when we consider it in a continuum with outsourcing the former bookstore (now a tchotchke store) to Barnes and Noble and the secret sale of KTRU.

  26. A tragedy. thanks for the blog! It’s really the community of Houston that loses the most. I haven’t lived in Houston for 15+ years, but isn’t KUHF basically a semi-pro (by that I mean corporate) radio station? Is Leebron happy that he can now listen to classical all the time while tooling around town?
    As an alum of Rice, I totally supported both KTRU and Rice football and basketball. If they keep the football program, doesn’t this set a double standard. I mean how much could they get from selling the football stadium to the medical center? Wouldn’t that be worth more than $9.5M?
    To Leebron, go to an indie rock concert (ok, you can take a Rice police escort since it probably would scare you) and look around at the cars. You’ll see tons of KTRU bumper stickers. This is outreach, this is connecting with the community. That will vanish once Mozart and KUHF take over.

    • Maybe this is the precedent that will result in selling/demolition of the stadium and consolidation of our money wasting departments

    • Yeah, talk about an “underutilized resource” right? Built for the super bowl and never filled since then.

      • Archer – you are absolutely right. I have been calling for the stadium to be demolished for quite some time now. Rice has made some poor choices in the past or gone too big when it was not needed. Consolidating our assets and liquidating the extras is a good thing

      • Rice Stadium was pretty full during the Pink Floyd concert, until it started raining. But the band kept on playing until the instruments shorted out during the encore. Greatest concert ever.

      • Archer Midland

        Some more great examples! The business school, the baker institute, the new fitness center, the beautiful but useless white pavilion, the parking garage. Oh crap we ran out of money! Time to eviscerate ktru.

      • Very mature. Maybe if you visited these location you would realize that they are actually used.

        This article is very misleading. KTRU is not being shut down as the title claims. Just the broadcast tower is being sold. That’s it.

  27. The only legitimate complaint I’m seeing here is that the administration didn’t give us a heads up. Knowing this was in the works would have been nice.

    Apart from that, KTRU can still function as KTRU. The people who currently tune into them are people who either enjoy their eclectic mix of music or want to listen to their sports broadcast. And these people STILL CAN. KTRU will broadcast online, like most major radio stations do now. And if anyone complains that online radio isn’t an effective format or that no one tunes into an online radio station, Pandora would beg to differ. Rice students still get the opportunity to run a radio station. They still get the opportunity to be sports commentators and DJs. They still get to share Rice diversity by playing music from around the world. The only thing that’s going away is the method by which it’s shared. And to those of you who want to listen to KTRU while driving around Houston, whip out your iPhone, plug it in, and bring up KTRU.

    Stop whining. Consider that maybe Leebron is trying to give us all the other things we say we want, like late night food, better college facilities, and more scholarships. Consider that students haven’t shown support for KTRU (how many years now have we voted against increasing their blanket tax?) and that the greater Houston area could benefit from a 24 hour NPR station. Change is good.

    • Sure, KTRU can still broadcast online “like most major radio stations do now.” But most major radio stations also broadcast over the air or they would not be considered major radio stations. It will be a huge loss in stature for KTRU, a station built over four decades by devoted student volunteers, to switch to online broadcasting only.

      In fact, KUHF currently broadcasts online, too, with one live channel for news and one for classical music. Why don’t YOU whip out YOUR iphone and plug it in?

      • I do. I frequently stream online radio. Here is the thing, NO ONE listens to KTRU. Now, before you say, I do – thats one, look at the broadcast radius. Then take a percentage.

        Quoted from Rice “which it said is too small to be measured by the radio research firm Arbitron.” They cant even find an audience. For the 200 people that do follow KTRU, they can use the web. For the thousands that will probably listen to something less “eclectic” (which seems to be a cover for not-listened-to these days), there will be a broadcast.

        Its not about who bought KTRU’s broadcast tower. Its more about the fact that SOMEONE actually did. and we arent wasting 50,000 Watts of broadcast. What a waste of power.

        There is a concept called supply and demand. And here the demonstrated demand was not enough. People should be happy that we made 9.5 mills on that. The alums I have talked to so far are like “wow. someone actually paid that much?”

        Your argument for maintaining KTRU is once again, because it is the status quo. This is the problem with Rice, make one small change and everyone (including people who have nothing to do with it_) read into this too much and freak out.

        Reminds me of prop 8. People have opinions even though it doesnt affect them at all

      • What about arguments that the services that KTRU provided for students and campus would cost more than $10 million to replace.

    • Student organizations are not merely commercial assets to be sold off even if they continue to be fully operated by passionate students.

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  29. While I will probably not miss the “sounds of doors slamming” or the saturday morning children’s show, this deal was totally shady and you bring up a lot of really solid points. It is so wrong that a small radio station is being cut after Rice spent so much money on a rec center no one uses and an empty BRC. Combined with rumors that he wants to spend the excess proceeds on another lighted field, this is a shameful excuse for leadership and respect for students’ voice.

  30. Rice: Any estimates on how many years until we are all listening to internet radio in our cars anyway? Pandora is already on your iPhones, KTRU can be too. Please stop flipping out – a transition to internet-only radio is quite legitimate in the internet era. Instead of loudly bleating about unannounced change, why not try to get some of the 9.5 MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE SALE used as Houston-wide marketing for a new, online-only KTRU? Change is not evil, and business is business.

    • Decisions by others actively influence our lives. When these decisions influence our lives for the worse, then that change is evil.

  31. we fought a similar fight for ktxt (texas tech) last year. the school suddenly, and with no warning, announced days before the winter break that ktxt would be shut and the transmitter and equipment would be sold because it provided no value.

    30 + years of students, volunteers and faculty were aghast. sadly, they wer enot aghast enough, and too late to do anything about it.

    fight, ktru-ers. fight like you mean it. use your words, kids.

  32. About those missing Arbitron ratings, it is very likely that KTRU does not broadcast a code that Arbitron uses to judge a radio station’s audience size. Why bother? Arbitron is for the station to determine what to charge its advertisers! KTRU has not needed that. Now, of course, we see that this is being used against KTRU.

    Also, I understand that a number of other college radio stations have given up their OTA broadcasts and gone internet-only. What happened to their listeners? 90% of them disappeared. So, no, internet radio is NOT good enough.

    • If 90% of KTRU’s listeners left, you would have about 4 people listening. If 100% stayed, it makes no difference.

      For those hardcore Rice KTRU-ers do we need to broadcast to Austin? UT might think its some form of psychological warfare or something

  33. “What about arguments that the services that KTRU provided for students and campus would cost more than $10 million to replace.”

    Thats attributing value to something with no way to back it up. If KTRU has 50 regular listeners, the value you ascribe to each user is about 200 thousand. KTRU is a niche station for a REALLY SMALL group of people.

    The rest of us will be able to listen to NPR now

    • Please cite the source for your claims that 40 or 200 or however many people listen to KTRU on a regular basis, other than the letter from the president, which cites Arbitron ratings that probably don’t exist. To my knowledge, there is no actual information on how many people listen to the station. The fact that you don’t listen to it doesn’t prove anything about the size of the listenership.

      • Do you believe it is enough to justify a 50,000 W station? Broadcasting to a potential audience of something like 4.5 million people

        Just an opinion. I am curious

    • Troll, thy name is Antarius.

      • I see. So opposing the herd mentality makes you a troll these days?

      • Archer Midland

        If anything, your posts consistently endorse the herd mentality.

      • Oh really. Seems like I am the only one here who sees a positive in this. The herd is the group opposing it and trying to protest. Which, you are a member of.

  34. Best Music radio station in Houston and they want News and Commercials? Don’t do this to Houston.

    Randy: There’s more to life than profits!
    Runs with Premise: Well like what?
    Randy: Well like, you know, Slurpees and stuff.

  35. Antarius: claiming that KTRU’s got only 200 listeners is bunk, pure and simple. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean everybody else out there agrees with you, sorry.

    As an alum, I listen regularly, and most of my alum friends do, as well. Unless my friends and I happen to be the only group of oddballs out there — and statistically, that’s pretty improbable — then the numbers are far higher than the ridiculously low straw-man figure you’re claiming.

    As for the Arbitron numbers, Arbitron doesn’t provide data on your station for free — you have to pay for it. You pay Arbitron, then, as mentioned above, you put a special ID tag in your station’s signal so they can track who’s listening. And KTRU, with its shoestring budget, never bothered to shell out the cash and add the ID tag. Why? Again, as pointed out above, Arbitron numbers are used primarily by advertisers to see where they should put their ads. Since KTRU doesn’t do that, there’d be little point.

    The reality is that nobody knows what the current listenership of KTRU is, not even the university. To find out, the university would’ve had to pay Arbitron and then have the student staff at KTRU add the ID tag (you don’t think Leebron’s going to be doing that himself, do you?), and that would’ve meant letting the cat out of the bag.

    Any talk about KTRU’s “invisible” Arbitron numbers is complete and utter BS spun out by the university to make it look like they’re just repurposing a woefully-underutilized resource for the good of all…when in fact they’re underhandedly selling off a much-loved resource when the majority of the student body’s not paying attention and hoping that since it’s a done deal, nobody’ll be motivated to really fight it.

    Honestly, I’m most curious to see what the fallout will be from the sudden disappearance of any & all Rice Athletics from the airwaves, since putting sports on the air is partly what caused the last KTRU-related crisis in the first place…

  36. Oh, and you know where you can currently listen to NPR already? Let’s see: there’s the several hours’ worth of NPR programming on both KUHF and KUHF HD-2, and oh, yeah — you can already listen to NPR nonstop online, on their own damn Website.

    Isn’t that supposed to be the wonderful place where all of KTRU’s soon-to-be-former listeners can go to hear their station? If so, why’s it not good enough for NPR listeners? Funny, that…

  37. “Now the rest of us can listen to NPR.”

    Antarius, for someone who just said that they frequently stream online radio, what difference would it make to you whether 91.7 started playing the NPR feed? KPFT plays NPR pieces regularly. It would not surprise me if 88.7 played NPR even more regularly.

    Tulane has a radio station at 91.5fm WTUL. They have regular fund raising periods just like KPFT in Houston and other New Orleans stations like WWOZ. If the Rice admin was worried about “wasting money,” they could have given some warning to KTRU that they needed to raise more of their own money. That’s not what is happening. The real issue here is the way the deal is going down.

    College radio stations can NEVER be expected to have the same amount of listeners as commercial radio: this is beside the point of why people are so angry. Universities should be expected to preserve and champion culture; if KTRU is not open to the public on terrestrial airwaves, it’s a blow to a very real culture in our city which is much bigger than you think.

    And to more than one person on this thread: NOT EVERYONE HAS A DAMN IPHONE.

  38. “when in fact they’re underhandedly selling off a much-loved resource when the majority of the student body’s not paying attention and hoping that since it’s a done deal, nobody’ll be motivated to really fight it.”

    How do you explain the [u]repeated[/u] failed attempts at raising their blanket tax? It is evident the majority of the student body doesn’t care. KTRU was the only blanket tax referendum that failed last year.

    Regarding the 200 listeners, it was obviously an exaggeration. The running joke is that all the listeners of KTRU were in the RMC yesterday. Believe someone made that comment on the Houston Press article.

    Once again, this feels like another Tea party movement to me. Opposed the status quo just because we can. The new UH station will, most likely, have more listeners and as a result, the SMALLER number of KTRU listeners will have to make do. Think I mentioned this above, I like sugar flavored coke (and not the HFCS junk we have here). But it isn’t economically feasible as most people dont care. End game ? I go out of my way to get MY special coke and the majority get cheaper prices.

    “And to more than one person on this thread: NOT EVERYONE HAS A DAMN IPHONE.”

    True. But smartphones are expected to occupy over 50% of the market in a couple of years. Amongst our generation (more likely to be listening to KTRU, imo) that number is significantly higher.

    If YOU expect the university to blast 50,000W to a small audience, I think it is acceptable to expect the listeners to take some proactive steps themselves.

    The end result is + 10 million USD to the university. In my experience, talking to alums in industry, people are quite impressed that KTRU’s stuff managed to get that much.

    If KTRU plays their cards right they will set up a low power unit on Sid for Rice and the surrounding areas to receive OTA broadcasts. The way it USED to be.

    KTRU on a 50 kW broadcast is like Rick Wagoner flying to Washington in a private plane asking for money. They just dont fit together

    • “Regarding the 200 listeners, it was obviously an exaggeration. The running joke is that all the listeners of KTRU were in the RMC yesterday. Believe someone made that comment on the Houston Press article.”

      It seems that much of what you say is exaggeration. Do you have any valid points, or do you prefer tossing out straw-man comparisons for the entirety of your arguments? You obviously don’t like KTRU nor the athletics program. Have any other vendettas the readers should know about?


      “Once again, this feels like another Tea party movement to me. Opposed the status quo just because we can. The new UH station will, most likely, have more listeners and as a result, the SMALLER number of KTRU listeners will have to make do. Think I mentioned this above, I like sugar flavored coke (and not the HFCS junk we have here). But it isn’t economically feasible as most people dont care. End game ? I go out of my way to get MY special coke and the majority get cheaper prices.”

      Well, this entire paragraph is pure supposition…”most likely”? Based on what data? What numbers? You’re arguing somehow that you know the future based on not even hypotheticals… but arguing out of your own ass. It’s like arguing with a child. Oh, and pure sugar is very much “economically feasible”. The only reason that HFCS is “economically feasible” is in the government subsidies to the corn lobbies. If sugar really wasn’t economically feasible for us, how would it be economically feasible for even our neighbors south of the border. Even their poor can buy a Coke with real sugar…
      “True. But smartphones are expected to occupy over 50% of the market in a couple of years. Amongst our generation (more likely to be listening to KTRU, imo) that number is significantly higher.”

      Your smartphone claim is pretty naive. One calculation will give you the reason:

      (128 kbps) * 1 day = 1.31835938 gigabytes

      So, considering that the two largest networks (AT&T and Verizon) are shifting to a removal of their all-you-can-eat plans, what happens to your ability to use internet radio then? People, as a whole, have been shown to respond by not using it. As with anything that is capped, one of reasons you as a managing entity cap something is to dissuade people from using in the first place. Even people who weren’t close to the limit will spend less. In any case, the argument that even 50% will have smartphones (which has yet to be actualized) would be negated if they don’t have the allowable data bandwidth.

      Also, another sidenote, your friends and alumni don’t count anymore than anyone else.

      • If sugar really wasn’t economically feasible for us, how would it be economically feasible for even our neighbors south of the border.

        – The corn lobby makes it economically feasible for coke to use HFCS here. Pure and simple. As a result, real sugar coke is somewhat of a rarity and thereby commands a higher price

        Try to keep the argument about the issue. You are welcome to disagree. Statements like

        “Also, another sidenote, your friends and alumni don’t count anymore than anyone else.”
        “not even hypotheticals… but arguing out of your own ass. It’s like arguing with a child.”

        though are unnecessary and display a thorough lack of professionalism.

  39. What I think is really crazy about the whole deal is that UH thinks they can make 91.7 worth the $10 million initial investment. What makes them think they can do that, and why can’t Rice/KTRU do that?

    • Because UH will play NPR and other related commercial content. KTRU will not.
      As a result, the two choices are
      1. Leave everything the way it is.
      2.Generate revenue and let UH figure out a way to make money

      Is there any reason KTRU cannot go to the AM spectrum? and broadcast from the roof of Sid to the nearby Rice community?

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  41. save rice radio its the best radio in houston and houston is a big city, please don’t let those kids down that was good stuff.

  42. There are a couple of comments on here about how KTRU didn’t pay to have Arbitron track their listeners. In 1997 they did, and about 23,000 people in their entire broadcasting range were tuning in for 3 hours a week or more. That’s 0.5% of the population that KTRU could broadcast to.

    As for Leebron saying KTRU’s current listening base is too small to appear on the Arbitron rankings, this is probably at least one of the places where he pulled that information from: http://www.radio-info.com/site/markets/grid/houston-galveston

    As you can see, non-commercial stations like KUHF and KSBJ have reported numbers, but KTRU does not. Make of that what you will.

  43. I feel like the only people that care about KTRU are the current and former DJs. Seriously the audience is miniscule, I’ve never listened and I don’t think many of my friends have either. Big fuss over nothing.

    • I am not a current or former KTRU DJ, and I care about KTRU. As do a number of my other friends and family.

      Just because you don’t like something, please don’t assume it has no value.

      • Kat – economically KTRU did not have value. Otherwise it would not have been sold.

        This is not an assumption. Its a fact

      • Even from a pure economic perspective, that statement is false. The sale merely indicates that the sellers thought that it was worth exactly or less than $10 million.

      • Which brings us to the philosophical question, what is value?

        Regardless, how could you quantify it to be worth more than 9.5 million USD?

      • The general argument is that KTRU’s leadership and job experience for students, visibility and PR for the university, and arts for the city as a whole, and justification for alumni donations would cost more than the $10 million to replace. Considering that the sale was made without input outside the president and board, it is possible that they overlooked these collateral factors. Therefore, in the long run, this divestment will reveal itself to have been a poor economic choice.
        For example, one of the original proposed sites for the Menil Collection was Rice University. Rice rejected that idea because it viewed itself as an engineering school and did not want to waste efforts on an art museum. Upon reflection, one could argue that the PR and visibility, and job and research opportunities for students, would have outweighed the cost of maintaining a university museum. But at the time it did not seem like a good decision.
        At the very least, Rice should have had a conversation about KTRU’s value, just as Leebron did for the university as a whole in the C2C.

      • The Menil collection is a very different story. Passing up on multiple Picasso’s and Warhols is a poor decision. The pure tangible value in holding such pieces gives us an attributable value.

        Further, the Menil was not already at Rice.

        KTRU has been here for 40 years. The majority of the student body does not show much interest (repeated failure to get blanket tax increases). As a result, KTRU is a station with low listenership and no tangible value. EXCEPT to the few people it affects. This money is expected to help the student body at-large, and that is why such a decision was made.

        The “cultural” argument is very subjective. One side says that KTRU is unique, which it is. The other side says, no one experiences this uniqueness and we should liquidate if possible. Yet another side says 24 hour NPR w0000t. I’m probably in between 2 and 3. Probably leaning to 3 actually.

        KTRU will be here for those who still want it. I would spend less time fighting this issue and more trying to see if we can move to another FM band or an AM band even and do a low power local broadcast from Rice.

        Investments and divestment are always a tricky subject. For the few we have goofed on, we have succeeded the same number. All we can do is make an educated decision. Waiting for 50 years for the possibility that KTRU will be huge and popular is a pipe dream.

        We also need to factor in depreciation of the tower due to internet radio. There are many arguments against internet radio, but in my opinion, they are from people who still use VHS tapes. Internet radio is not going anywhere. And it’s popularity is continuously rising.

        Finally, the 10 million tower is used to give jobs to a handful of people (a hundred at best??) and experience to the same. That is a massive amount of capital per student in any given year. I would love a brand new theatre on Rice campus with a million dollar lighting hang, but for the interest shown by the students and the general low audience and participation, that probably will not happen soon.

    • See you never listened Ricer, so you don’t understand what we’re losing. It’s the only station that actually plays a good variety of music. I’ve won so many tickets to shows off the station from calling up. I was able to see small time bands before they got all huge and commercial.

      • In my case, most of my friends did listen. Once or twice. Then being unable to continue this pattern, abandoned it

  44. http://www.29-95.com/music/story/why-losing-ktru#comment-9825

    The comments from Houston at-large seems very apathetic.

  45. I would agree it seems to be a very very small audience outcry of this “travesty”, and most of the complaints seem to be from current staff upset they no longer will be able to play their IPODS on the air. Houston needs multiple public media outlets, full time. A classical service, news service, and alternative service (KPFT) will benefit the community much more than a student activity.

    • Last I checked, Rice was supposed to look out for the interests of its students (through a student activity such as KTRU) before the interests of the Houston community at large.

      By the way, the argument that Houston “needs… a classical service” is completely based on personal taste. A classical station would be permanently off my radio “dial”.

      • Exactly. And that 10 million received will benefit many through the east servery project.

        KTRU is like a Porsche given to a wealthy kid. Benefits a small group of people.

        It is clear from the repeated failures of the blanket tax proposals that the student mass does not care about KTRU. It is a small but VERY vocal minority. As a result, KTRU is not “in the interest of the students”. it is in the interest of a small number of students

  46. I have listened to KTRU and I have not listened to commercial stations since 1969 when I returned from RVN. I listened to KUHF. I have seen what the NPR affect has been on KUHF-it is a commercial station and still has fund drives. Clear Channeling KTRU would ruin Rice public broadcasting, and I hear Mozart now, why twice?
    My favorite is KPFT, and why? Because it is not censored and made a clone of EXXON, Cheveron, and Monsanto public relations.
    KTRU is heard by thousands, and unless the intent is to sell toothpast, market share is not important enough to sell the golden goose of the Rice broadcasting for the the cheese omelet of homogenization.
    Rice has been the jewel of Houston, KTRU the Star Diamond in the crest.
    Keep and cherish it. Put up a tower at my house, I’ll live under it!

  47. Pingback: SPACE CITY ROCK » Save KTRU: Sunday’s Protest at Willy’s Statue + What Else You Can Do

  48. If KTRU is to continue as an online only entity, where is the music going to come from? Record companies, including indies, don’t generally distribute free CDs, etc. to internet-only stations, so it’s not “just the same thing but over the internet”. Like a lot of others I listen to radio primarily while driving. My truck already has an FM radio, but I am currently unable to purchase a droid or iPhone so will be unable to listen on the road.

    And the deal isn’t finished as Leebron’s fanboys/girls would like us to believe. KUHF’s still trying to raise the money and the FCC hasn’t ruled yet. See y’all Sunday.

  49. I CAN’T Believe This!!! I knew the passionate Rice Sudents who put KTRU “On The Air” on FM With 10 Watts in the Summer of 1971. I was a Houston Radio Personality on MANY Houston Stations. In the Summer of 1971 I was between jobs and did the morning show on KTRU just for fun. I know the Radio Business Very Well. My Houston Radio jobs included Many: KILT AM/FM KFMK KXYZ KAUM KCOH KPRC KRBE (Many Times) …This move really makes me sick. U of H has their Station anyway. Why dump KTRU to University of Houston? We need more NPR Junk?? and Classical Music??? I don’t think so. What about the people that have given their time & efforts to support KTRU over all these years.Then “Kick Them To The Curb? Just when I thought I had heard it all(regarding stupid radio moves) I was told about this!!!!!!!! WAKE UP….SAVE THIS STATION & PUT A STOP TO THIS!!!! Makes Me Sick!!! SAVE KTRU………Johnny Goyen

  50. Just as the government, through its unlimited social programs, has replaced the nuclear family in our society, it has also replaced the alumni base as the primary source of funding for colleges and universities (direct grant, student loans, research projects, political pork, and so on). Therefore, there is no longer any need for the administration to really care what the alumni think about the direction the university takes. All it has to do is to follow the political winds, promote a liberal agenda, and sweep up Congress’ largess without regard for the opinion of the stakeholders. What made Rice unique a few years ago no longer exists, and what will distinguish it from any other university desirous of the “elite”moniker in the future will only the the size of the annual tuition load. Time to face reality folks.

  51. If everything is supposed to be just the same in an online form, this thread of logic would eventually lead to Rice University as the new University of Phoenix.

  52. Pingback: Burn Down Linda Thrane | Burn Down Blog

  53. By all means let’s continue the fight to save KTRU, but the FCC has guidelines for a 100 watt license that could cover a 3 mile radius:
    I think KTRU might be better off with a 100 watt transmitter hanging off a stadium light pole than with a 50,000 watt transmitter in Spring.

  54. This is a terrible decision to sell KTRU. The whole premise for the original license granted by the FCC was to provide a place for student experience and serve the interests of the “college” and public community.

    This is why I put together these two parodies on YouTube. Enjoy

  55. Pingback: 42 Articles on the Best Internet Radio Sites and Services

  56. The University of Houston System’s Assistant General Counsel Ruth Shapiro has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office for a legal ruling on Austin Airwaves’ request for documents relating to the proposed sale of Rice Radio.
    Austin Airwaves, an independent community radio advocate based in Austin, TX, has a long reputation for seeking information from recalcitrant government officials. Rice University, private and insular, is generally immune to Open Records Requests. UH is not.
    Stay tuned!

    jim radio
    Austin Airwaves

  57. Is a strangle contry you half vere good readio is put from privet univarsity to socialist tex money and saying Kapitalist is best.
    Russo Redio was good but Putin made to sell Moskow Ballet musik after fired dancers. See? Not good result to put on ears after readio: KGB watching ifone but can never see redio tune.
    Amerikan vodka not so good, either.

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  59. For latest news you have to visit internet and on internet
    I found this web site as a best web page for most up-to-date updates.

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